Gov. Edwards, state officials address latest rise in COVID-19 cases
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - During a news conference Friday, July 16, Gov. John Bel Edwards gave an update on Louisiana’s response to COVID-19, the Delta variant, and vaccinations around the state.
The Governor says with a fourth surge in COVID-19 cases, the state has lost four months of progress in the battle against the outbreak.
Since February, 97% of COVID-19 cases and COVID-associated deaths statewide have been among people who were not fully vaccinated.
Data also shows COVID-like illnesses, cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in every region of Louisiana.
The Governor says at least 50% of all adults statewide have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Meanwhile, state heath leaders say 58% of all new cases are of the Delta variant.
“We are dealing with a different beast,” said Our Lady of the Lake Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Catherine O’Neal.
Despite the state seeing a fourth surge in case numbers, Gov. Edwards says he is focusing on making vaccines available at participating pharmacies and providers across all 64 Louisiana parishes.
Gov. Edwards went on to say that he is not considering imposing any further mitigation measures or restrictions as it relates to COVID-19 in Louisiana.
The Governor also said he believes the Shot At A Million lottery vaccine campaign has been effective in encouraging more residents to get vaccinated.
You can watch the Governor’s news conference below:
Edwards went on to say that the special veto override session will last for five days, starting Tuesday, July 20.
RELATED STORY: COVID-19 numbers in Louisiana
The following information is from the Office of the Governor:
Baton Rouge, La. (July 16, 2021) — As COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to surge among unvaccinated Louisianans, Gov. John Bel Edwards is calling upon all Louisianans to take action to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state by getting their vaccine if they have not yet done so or by helping their family, friends and neighbors get the shot. Between February and July of 2021, unvaccinated people in Louisiana were 20 times more likely to become ill with COVID-19.
“If you have not taken the COVID-19 vaccine and you’re 12 or older, it’s time to run, not walk, to one of the more than 1,400 locations where it is readily available all across the state of Louisiana,” Gov. Edwards said. “The Delta variant of COVID is now the dominant strain in Louisiana and without the protection that the safe and effective vaccines offer, you are far more likely to become ill with COVID in Louisiana. Our hospitals are again stretched thin with limited staff capacity, and the vast majority of COVID patients are not yet fully vaccinated against the illness.
“To those who are vaccinated, thank you for taking this important step to protect yourselves and those around you. Today, I’m drafting you all into advocacy for vaccination against COVID-19, because research shows that many people who had questions changed their minds after hearing from doctors, family members and friends,” Gov. Edwards said. “Please, reach out to the people in your life who you know have not been vaccinated and have private conversations with them about their questions, fears and the barriers they may face in getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Help them get good information about how safe it is, and explain that you care about them and want them to be protected. Consider assisting them in getting an appointment or even offering transportation to get the shot. We’re all in this together and we can turn things around — but we have a limited time to do so.”
“COVID-19 cases are surging among the unvaccinated in Louisiana. It’s not one outbreak, it’s not one region. This is a statewide problem,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, State Health Officer. “And because our statewide vaccination rate is too low everyone is at elevated risk and should take precautions immediately for the safety of themselves and their families.”
LDH reaffirms the following guidance for individuals in Louisiana:
- If you are not yet fully vaccinated you should mask and distance in public settings and particularly indoors, for your safety and for the safety of those around you.
- If you are fully vaccinated you have very good, but not absolute protection. Your risk, while relatively small, will increase as the amount of COVID-19 circulating in your community increases. Masking and distancing particularly when indoors will increase your safety should you desire extra protection.
- If you are at increased risk for complications of COVID-19 by virtue of advanced age or underlying medical condition or have a member of your household family unit who is, LDH strongly recommends you consider masking and distancing when indoors and/or in close proximity to others for added protection.
Facts about the Delta variant
Having had COVID-19 before does not offer protection against the Delta variant, which is much more contagious and is now the dominant strain in Louisiana and the country. Getting any one of the three vaccines, however, has proven to be effective against COVID-19 in general and the Delta variant specifically.
As a result of the current pace of vaccinations and the spread of the more contagious Delta variant, Louisiana’s COVID-19 trends continue to worsen:
- The number of new cases diagnosed each day in Louisiana has been increasing since June 16 and is now increasing in all nine regions of the state. The statewide average daily number of cases per 100,000 residents has increased 177% over the past 14 days.
- The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout Louisiana has been increasing for the past 14 days, with 245 additional hospitalized patients added during that time, as of today’s reporting. That is double the number from two weeks ago.
- Statewide percent positivity of new COVID-19 tests conducted is now 6.3% and has been increasing for the past five weeks.
- During the past week, 35 new outbreaks and 200 new outbreak-associated cases have been identified. This represents a 169% increase in the number of reported outbreaks and a 96% increase in the number of outbreak-associated cases compared to the previous week. The settings with the greatest outbreak increases included camps, child day cares, religious services and restaurants. In addition to the widespread circulation of the more transmissible Delta variant, insufficient masking and distancing, especially among unvaccinated individuals, are also contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in these settings.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine remains the single best way of protecting yourself, your family and your community against COVID-19. While the protection provided by each of the three currently available COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) is very good against COVID-19 and the variants currently spreading in Louisiana, the protection is not absolute. LDH is aware of a small number of “breakthrough cases,” or individuals who contracted COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated.
So far, more than 184 million Americans – including more than 1.8 million Louisianans – have taken at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, which are safe and effective against COVID.
The CDC says 99.2% of all COVID-19 deaths are in unvaccinated people, meaning the available vaccines are very effective against the current COVID-19 variants, including Delta, which is the dominant strain in Louisiana.
How to get a COVID vaccine in Louisiana
Everyone aged 12 and older is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Louisiana. The FDA has only authorized one of the three COVID-19 vaccines – from Pfizer – for children ages 12 to 17. Parents should confirm with the vaccine provider that their child is under 18 to ensure Pfizer vaccine is available before making an appointment.
- COVID-19 vaccines are widely available at 1,437 locations in all of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, including at pharmacies, hospitals, health care clinics and doctor’s offices.
- For a list of locations, visit LDH’s vaccine directory or visit vaccines.gov, which is maintained by the federal government.
- To get a list of vaccine locations near you text your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English, or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish.
- If you have questions, would like to speak with a medical professional, or need help scheduling an appointment, call Louisiana’s vaccine hotline at 1-855-453-0774.
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